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    S&P Hits Five-Year High After Housing Starts Surge in December


    by IBTimes

    U.S. Stocks hit a five-year high today after better-than-expected results from eBay and data that showed unemployment benefits dropped to a five-year low.Other positive data showed that housing starts climb to its highest rate since June 2008, but factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region unexpectedly contracted in January.Michael Guli from Knight Capital will weigh in on the recent positive housing news and what the slowdown in factory activity will mean for the economy.The Labor Department said on Thursday that initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 335,000, the lowest level since January 2008.But the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index fell well below economists' expectations. Earlier in the week, the New York Fed's "Empire State" general business conditions index also fell, surprising economists. Groundbreaking on new homes rose in December to its fastest pace in over four years, hitting its fastest pace since June 2008.The Commerce Department said on Thursday that starts at building sites for homes surged (just over) 12.1 percent last month to a 954,000-unit annual rate.Building permits also edged up to a 903,000-unit rate, the fastest pace since July 2008.